Mrunal Manmay Dash

Thousands of mid-day-meal (MDM) cooks across Odisha took out a huge rally and tried to gherao the State Assembly in Bhubaneswar on Monday demanding regularisation of their jobs.

As they marched towards the Assembly, the police stopped them near PMG square where they halted and continued their demonstration.

“We are getting Rs 1,400 as a consolidated salary for our job. The school teachers involve us in everything including gardening and collecting firewood. In return we get a paltry Rs 1,400. We want a hike in salary and all the government benefits,” said an agitating cook.

Another cook from Khordha, Jayanti Sahu said, “The salary we get is nothing compared to the work we do at the school. From watering the trees to cleaning up after the meals, we do everything in the school. Rs 1,400 is inadequate for us.”

Sanjukta Mahol, Deputy General Secretary of HMS Central Trade Union said, “The cooks have been toiling in the schools for eight and nine hours a day but they are not getting enough salary. They should be made permanent govt employees and should be provided minimum wage set by the government including pension benefits. They should also be included in all the applicable government schemes.”

The cooks have warned to intensify their agitation if their demands are not met.

(Reported By Soumyaranjan Sahu, OTV)